Travels

What to visit in Jerusalem

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Nisan 16 of 5773. Boker Tov from Jerusalem. The days since we arrived are being so intense that it seems that we left home more than 20 years ago ... and that when we started in the morning we still didn't know what awaited us. When one arises visit a city like Jerusalem You can do it from many points of view, even to let yourself be lost simply by its streets and that the most sacred places find you. However, those who know us know that we really like to feel in those great moments that happened, and perhaps because of that our routes through Jerusalem have been somewhat different than usual, first placing ourselves chronologically in history and then distributing it according to the three main religions that breathe its streets, its rocks, its memories. Here we go…

We are in Israel, and Israel today is (and in ancient times) the people of the Jews, although it is true that as Christianity and Islam is a Abrahamic religion and culture that recognizes many characters and prophets of the others. We have been in the Elijah's Cave in Haifa, in the tomb of Maimonides in Tiberias and remembered the most important discovery of the "Dead Sea Manuscripts" in QumranIt's time to get into the world of Judaism for the first time, as we already do daily in Christianity or evenCatholicism in the Cradle of the latter in the Vatican or we would talk aboutIslam on the recent trip to Istanbul That is why we are going to distribute Jerusalem in that different way that we were commenting, we are going to see it from three points of view, as many as divisions the city has. The most Jewish Jerusalem, the most Christian and the most Muslim. Today plays the Jerusalem of the Jews. For this we are going to open the mind much more than separating between Modern City and Old City and we are going to divide the city into much more ...

Today for our most “Jewish” route and to inaugurate Jerusalem we go directly to the most sacred place of Judaism ... !! The Temple Mount !!

And also as we said, and we have been seeing all these days, we are going to position ourselves chronologically because the history of Jerusalem is really precious (and more yesterday when we saw her in our contact about her walls in the Tower of David Lights and Sound show). And it would be Abraham, the father of the three monotheistic religions, who on his journey of faith would bring his people to these lands and where the famous "sacrifice of Isaac" would take place. We are talking about 1800 B.C. but Jerusalem already existed since its birth in 4,000 BC, built and inhabited by the Jebusites (who together with little daughters and amorites dominated the lands of the Middle East). We are in the origins of the city and the most important moment of the main religions of the world.

We go down Jaffa Street, totally alone at this time of the morning (around 6:30) while in the distance, between walls, we see the historic center of Jerusalem, which we will border to enter through the Dung Gate


 

The previous story is very important in our first visit of the day and of which it is very important to know their schedules since there is a lot of incongruity on the internet. For non-muslims It is only accessible (free) from Sunday to Thursday from 7.30 to 10.30 and from 12.30 to 13.30, never on Friday and Saturday, and never for Jews (we'll explain later). Of course, although we expected more queues, just 10 people were at 7.15 to pass.


 

The entrance, located to the right of the checkpoints to the area of ​​the Wailing Wall, is a small gate that gives a somewhat anti-aesthetic wooden walkway that elevates us to the Mugrabi or the Moors Gate (the only one that allows Access for non-Muslims, the rest have surveillance from the same streets to avoid foreigners although you can go out through them). After passing a small backpacks control, we are surprised to see from this hour many people making their prayers in the Wall that we will see later, divided into two sectors for men and women.


The Temple Mount, the most disputed "esplanade" in the world.

He Temple Mount or Esplanade of the Mosques, also called Al-Haram ash-Sarif (noble sanctuary for Muslims) and Har Ha-Bayit (or House or Temple Mount for Jews and Christians), is the holiest place in Judaism and one of the three holiest for Muslims next to Mecca and Medina. Why? It was at this point on Mount Moria, and here we link with the story we were telling, where the story is the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham (which God finally forgave). Today, a religious site of 15 hectares with a truly spectacular halo of energy.

We begin our exploration following the plane counterclockwise, a visit that we wanted to have initially made on Saturday in our "most Muslim Jerusalem" but whose schedules have made us impossible. This is precisely the area of ​​the Islamic Museum that holds some well preserved capitals and, especially, the largest mosque in Jerusalem and also more sacred, that of Al-Aqsa, those who receive us.


 

The "Far Mosque" (as translated in Spanish) has its role in the Koran in the so-called "night trip" when Muhammad travels from Mecca and rises to the sky from this esplanade in 621 at the point where the Dome is today of the rock. It can accommodate up to 5000 people inside, so agreeing at the time of a call to prayer can be truly magical.

Day by day, the faithful of Islam are the only ones who walk and pray inside the enclosure, in addition to the visitors, since according to Orthodox tradition, the Jews must penetrate us into the Temple Mount as it is considered a desecrated sacred place and could violate the Sancta Sanctorum that kept the Ark of the Covenant from the missing temple. And so they do, absorbed in what you read around, as if there was nothing but them and their divine book.


 

We can't help it. Leaving Solomon's Stables aside (from the cross period, only visitable by appointment), we set our sights on the most sacred center.


 

At this first hour of the morning the temperature has dropped somewhat compared to these days (we are more to the North) and some clouds are seen that disappear throughout the day, which does not take away splendor to true temple initiated in the first Muslim domination with the Umayyads between 690 and 710 on the original ruins of Solomon's Temple, and that has been rebuilt at least five times due to the successive earthquakes until its last in 1035. Today it looks beautiful.


It seems so absurd to think that this esplanade is so often the object of the biggest disputes on the planet and the center of all eyes for hundreds of years (or thousands). Now, with the silence of the morning, we try to understand a little more of so much controversy, since after all it is a place revered by all as the rock of the famous sacrifice of father Abraham and where the biblical texts consider it the Functional Stone of the world, where God gathered the earth to shape Adam, or where historical figures like Cain or Abel made their sacrifices.

For the Jewish people This was the main reason why Solomon would build the First Temple here (of which we will talk later) in order to house the Ark of the Covenant with the tablets of the commandments of Moses and where they expect the third and final one to be built on the day their Messiah arrives.


 

For muslims, however and as we mentioned before, his prophet has arrived and in addition to the famous interrupted sacrifice (they believe that Ishmael, before Isaac), and that they do not deny much of the history and biblical characters, here Muhammad accompanied by the Archangel Saint Gabriel ascended to heaven, which made when the Caliph Omar in full expansion Omeya conquered the city, it became this third most important place in Islamism to date.

And the Christians? They also have a lot to say although today they "paint" less in their administration as well as throughout the Holy Land. It is said that here Jesus also preached with his disciples (after 0 A.D.), and the Crusaders insisted on converting the buildings into Christian worship especially during the 12th century.


It seems impossible that such a wonderful and peaceful place one morning like today, be the focus of the conflicts of yesterday, of today (the First Entifada began with a great wave of protests and revolts of the Muslim world after the visit of the Israeli Minister Ariel Sharon not too long ago) and surely of tomorrow, because the Jews crave over all things set up here his Third Temple, while Muslims would never allow it. Difficult solution

What is clear is that the beauty of this place. its colored tiles of intense blues and whites can lead us even though we are facing a mosque but in reality it is not technically considered that way but a place of worship for Islam.


 

At one point a door opens. Paula runs away, and it would have made us very excited to see her inside but this absolutely forbidden to non-muslims. She is a girl who is cleaning with a broom. We barely get to see a little of its sacred zone.

We are also struck by the small dome called Chain Dome in one of its sides, geometric center of the entire esplanade, almost nailed to the great Dome of the Rock, and whose mysteries are solved believing that it was a previous test of the definitive construction, today in golden finish thanks to the gift that in the middle of The 90s made King Hussein of Jordan giving him the look we see today.


 

We continue our quiet walk and arrive at an area of ​​gardens where you can get a wonderful panoramic from a place that will surely thrill us these days, the Mount of Olives, so important to the Christian world.

A little later we also begin our Review of the 8 gates of Jerusalem, with the most important of all, the Golden Gate. Why is it the most important? Because also known as the Gate of Mercy or Gate of Eternal Life, it is the only one that remains sealed since in 1541 Soleiman the Magnificent wanted to prevent the access of the Messiah who is said to come on the Day of Judgment.


 

We return to the square and continue to see those calls scales, four-arch structures, where according to tradition the souls of the dead will be hung on Judgment Day, as well as stairs and all kinds of "small treasures"that complement the surroundings already with the sun hitting hard again. They are the Dome of the Ascension, that of Hebron, that of St. George, that of the Spirits, ... each one with its particular meaning (for example that of the Ascension is where it is said that Muhammad prayed before going up to heaven)


 

Monte Moria It's creepy just thinking about it. It is like every step we take was interfered with by a halo of special mystical energy. As if we were walking on some tiles that so many deaths hide, that many shouts are silent, that so much history they hold. Enter a slight tingle of just thinking about it ...


 

Quietly, already through the main gate areas, we are oriented towards the Cotton Gate (closest to our next purpose). Behind, in the distance, we leave that building in an octagonal way, its four doors (oriented to the cardinal points), its marbles from Italy and Greece, its blue and white mix tiles with floral motifs and its verses of the Koran written in Its upper parts.


 

We say goodbye like this one of the Wonders of the World in the Holy Land, that because of its meaning and its importance in the great religions of this planet, nobody should get lost. Even for being one of the most beautiful and lasting architectural treasures, why not? It is also incredible how the verses of the Qur'an are prayed just a few meters from the holiest place in Judaism, the Wailing Wall, where the Psalms of the Torah leave one of those images and reflections that give so much to think within oneself.


Paula, how have you stayed? Uffs, it's a shocking visit, huh?

We take a water (7 ILS) and we leave the domains of the walls again, because yesterday we left the car ready to return today as soon as he opened the office, and it is near the Jaffa Gate. Faster impossible ... car parked and with unleaded gasoline up, check out, sign and go.


 

We follow our route. !! Until always "Splash" !! Thank you very much for allowing us to have made this adventure. You have been great.

SOME USEFUL TIPS. ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES BY CAR:

- The general calculation has been 913 km by car, and 487 ILS of gasoline (about 107 EUROS) in a tank and a half.
- We have crossed the most important routes, ROUTE 1, ROUTE 90, ROUTE 35, ROUTE 40,…
- Drive in Israel It is very simple. While it is true that Israelis are "aggressive" (could be the word) in their driving, and even drive much faster than they should, the quality of their roads and the few crowds of cars that exist except for the vicinity of Jerusalem , remove any kind of complication.
- The Palestinian Territory roads they are somewhat more deteriorated, and yet they do not present major complications. Of course, "almost" no car rental provider covers in your contract any mishaps you may have in these. That is, entering the West Bank is under the responsibility of each one. Do not forget to remove the "avoid Palestinian Territories" in the GPS or it will give you detours.
- He using a GPS seems more than recommended although the indications are in Hebrew, Muslim and English. The names may not be similar to what we might believe, so you should bring their possible names or navigate within the map if you know the area in which your final location is located. For example, to get to Safed you have to write Tzafed.

Almost unintentionally, back to follow our route and already hungry to have breakfast in the body (and so we do for 112 ILS), we find a kind of small art boulevard really picturesque called Alrov Mamilla, a good "kit-kat" to regain strength and start the day.


 

This would be the final route that our "most Jewish Jerusalem" would have, easy to see on a map ...

Mount Zion and the old Jebusea fortress

We start the morning talking about Abraham's passage in 1800 BC. and of the "square of disputes" so directly related, but still it is necessary to delve deeper into the history of Jerusalem to understand its origins. Abraham would leave offspring in Isaac, and this one in Jacob, and with them the times of droughts that led the Israelite people to slavery in Egypt. It would appear then the figure of Moíses and Exodus, which already we would see the first day and Joshua picking up Jericho (that also we saw the day before yesterday), to give way to the first kings: Saul and David.

While in Jerusalem, built by the Jebusite people, a fortress high on the southeast hill of Jerusalem dominated the valley ... ! Mount Zion !, which is currently outside the walls of the old citadel, and whose meaning is important to understand its origins.


 

Bordering the walls we can see in the distance again the Tower of David, beautiful with the sunlight of these hours, and especially the new colonies that were promoted outside the fortification with large donations and that encouraged the settlers to join the new neighborhoods, with even 7 mills, of which we can still see two today.

So little by little we reached the hill that David met when he arrived in the city in 1004 BC. as king of Israel and Judea, and that today houses several important points to explore, such as the Cenacle, David's Tomb itself, the Dormition Church and the Holocaust Chamber.


 

Perhaps a place with less context for the Jews is the Cenacle (8-17, free) whose construction of the cross era leaves Gothic arches that would serve as a Franciscan monastery until the 16th century, and leave stained glass windows and the mihrab of the Ottoman era.


 

The Cenacle is the place where Jesus had dinner with the apostles on the last supper before he died on the cross and where they met after the resurrection. It was a house with large rooms belonging to a friend of Jesus, where on the ground floor you prayed and on the top floor you used to eat. "How much I have wanted to celebrate this Easter with you before I die. Because I tell you that I will not celebrate it again until it has its fulfillment in the kingdom of God."


Almost next, we stumble upon the Tomb of King David (8-18, free), where according to the Bible, David slept in his city with his parents but after several attempts at looting (Herod among them), it is not possible to verify if it is the exact location of the burial although the Crusaders placed him in a large sarcophagus in the XIV and there rests until today revered by all religions. Of course, Paula has to go on one side and Isaac on the other and with a paper kipa on the head.


Between the alleys there are some stairs that lead to the top of the Cenacle house, and from where there is a beautiful panoramic view of a black and conical roof building built as a church in 1900, with a circular plan and six chapels. Is the Church of the Dormition (free), another one of those places not to be missed.


 

It is precisely here, in the Dormition Church or Abbey, where we begin to realize the magic and spirituality that every corner of this wonderful Jerusalem has. As we enter we see a mosaic pavement, an altar with golden paintings representing the Virgin and the really precious child and a silent room that emanates in abundance religions revealing the place where the Virgin died.


 

But it is in its lower chapel, also managed by the German Benedict Order, that we understand that here the places of Christian cults will have nothing to do with what we see around the world, but that each one has real legacies in its undergrounds than any place in the planet can house. Here, without going any further, a room that shakes even the unbelievers, with a crypt with the lying statue of the dead Virgin that will shake more than one.


Overwhelmed, we continue our walk always outside the walls, and see another one of the Doors of the Old City, on this occasion that of Zion or also called David's Gate by the Arabs, How could it be otherwise. In this other one of the eight doors the Star of David shines in its pavement, although we can also see marks of the gunshots and bullet holes that the contestants left in the 1948 War of Independence.


Before continuing on our way, and leaving aside a cemetery where the "fair non-Jew" Oskar Schindler (8-17, free) lies, whom we all remember for Steven Spielberg's movie, we decided to enter the Holocaust Chamber (12 ILS).


 

What can we say that we have not seen in other similar places like Terezín Concentration Camp, he Jewish Quarter of Berlin or the Jewish Quarter of Pest Where was the second largest synagogue in the world? Shudders. The plaques recall the more than 2000 communities of Jews annihilated by the Nazis, in what is a grim museum tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, and that retain the uniforms of Auzchwitz, other objects of the time and even some replica of the methods used in such genocide. !!Horrible!!


 

We are at the top of Mount Zion, and although our destiny leads us to finish explaining the origins of this ancient population, a place captures our attention. With the other side of the valley (cemetery, Silwan, Mount of Olives) of unbeatable surroundings, the Monastery of San Pedro in Gallicantu (8-11'45, 12 ILS with Paula's student card) is one of its valleys.


 

"Before the rooster sings a second time, you will deny me three times"In place where the house of the high priest Caiphas was located, and on the foundations of ancient Byzantine and crossed churches, this modern structure venerates the place where Jesus was taken after the arrest in what is one of the most beautiful churches that We have seen these days.


 

But as we did before in the Dormition Abbey, this Catholic Church rebuilt definitely in 1931 keeps in its depths a dark place that calls our curiosity.


 

A hole dug in rock of what could have been the prison of Jesus that night causes us a keen restlessness. There, completely silent and around its base, we can do nothing but observe and reflect with ourselves that could pass through the head of any person there waiting for their destiny (Isaac> I will never know that I would go through the thoughts of a believer like Paula, when she came back down once more. I guess it's something she will keep for her like other thoughts of these days)


 

And our historical walk through the origins of Jerusalem is completed in one place, the City of David, which gives coherence and nexus to everything discussed. What were those temples we talked about on the Temple Mount? How important was David in the creation of Judaism? And Solomon?

The City of David, the height of the Israelite people.

It is at this point, between the hill of Mount Zion and bordering the Kidron Valley, where King David would conquer the Jerusalem of the Jebusites and build his city. It is also here, among the three valleys that shape the current sacred city where the height of a town motivates a justified visit.

After the Dung Gate that we will cross in the morning and to which we will return, the first street on the right gives access to the entrance of the City of David, where we acquired the tickets for free (for 52 ILS with Paula's student card although there is also some more expensive tours from time to time -on their website you can book-) and some water shoes needed if we want to walk through one of its tunnels (69 ILS), we take the headlights of the backpack and leave them in a locker (10 ILS).


 

We begin our visit where King David would build his fortress, in what is considered the Barrio Real or Area G, and would protect with immense walls. Also where you have the best views on the other side of the Kidron Valley, starting with the immense Jewish Cemetery adjacent to the Mount of Olives and continuing through what is now the City of Silwan, of Arab origin, and that also keeps in its lower part some of the oldest tombs in the entire area.


 

But David's great dream was carried out by his son. Indeed, the temples we were talking about arrived at this time

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